The Instrument Deployment Camera, located on the robotic arm of NASA's InSight lander, took this picture of the Martian surface on Nov. 26. Photo: NASA/JPL-Caltech

NASA's Mars InSight lander, which touched down on the red planet on Monday, has successfully deployed its solar panels and transmitted its first image from the spacecraft's Instrument Deployment Camera, located on the lander's robotic arm.

Why it matters: For InSight to complete its mission of drilling deep into the interior of Mars, it needs energy to charge its batteries. The lander's mission could provide new insights into how Mars formed and evolved, which could shed light on Earth's history too.

  • InSight's two solar arrays are each 7 feet wide and capture enough of Mars' weak sunlight to keep the lander charged. "Even when dust covers the panels — what is likely to be a common occurrence on Mars — they should be able to provide at least 200 to 300 watts," NASA said in a press release.

What's next: During the next few days, scientists will use the spacecraft's robotic arm and attached camera to take pictures of the surface near the lander itself. This will help the team decide where to deploy the scientific instruments.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

Updated 31 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Politics: Senate Democrats block vote on McConnell's targeted COVID relief bill McConnell urges White House not to strike stimulus deal before election.
  2. Economy: Why the stimulus delay isn't a crisis (yet).
  3. Health: Studies show drop in COVID death rate — The next wave is gaining steam — The overwhelming aftershocks of the pandemic.
  4. Education: Schools haven't become hotspots — San Francisco public schools likely won't reopen before the end of the year.

Senate Democrats block vote on McConnell's targeted COVID relief bill

Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Getty Images

Senate Democrats on Wednesday blocked a vote on Republicans' $500 billion targeted COVID-19 relief bill, a far less comprehensive package than the $1.8 trillion+ deal currently being negotiated between the Trump administration and House Democrats.

Why it matters: There's little appetite in the Senate for a stimulus bill with a price tag as large as what President Trump and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi have been calling for. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's (R-Ky.) "skinny" proposal was mostly seen as a political maneuver, as it had little chance of making it out of the Senate.

The hazy line between politics and influence campaigns

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The recent firestorm over the New York Post’s publication of stories relying on data from a hard drive allegedly belonging to Hunter Biden shows the increasingly hazy line between domestic political “dirty tricks” and a foreign-sponsored disinformation operation.

Why it matters: This haziness could give determined actors cover to conduct influence operations aimed at undermining U.S. democracy through channels that just look like old-fashioned hard-nosed politics.